FFXIV Bard Guide - Support Your Allies and Snipe The Enemies!
FFXIV Bard Guide
Bard is the advancement of the Archer class in FFXIV. They’re the only job that uses the bow as a weapon. At the same time, they stay true to the job’s name and support allies with their songs. Bard used to be a semi-supportive ranged physical DPS character. However, the utility-focused parts of their kit are slowly being removed. The Shadowbringers update gave Bards a bit more consistency and DPS, while also taking away a few supportive tools, making the job overall more focused on personal damage output than aiding the rest of the group.
Basics of Bard
Bard is somewhat unique as a physical DPS job in Final Fantasy XIV. Unlike almost everyone else, Bards don’t rely on weaponskill combos to deal damage. Instead, they keep their damage over time on the targets, while making use of powerful oGCDs and some unique patterns associated with the job.
It’s one of the original FFXIV jobs, and it’s connected to a combat class – Archer. To become an Archer or advance into Bard at level 30, you have to visit the Archer’s Guild in New Gridania. Archers and Bards wear leather armor.
Instead of a rigorous rotation, Bard has to adapt to a much more fluid playstyle. A lot of their ability usage is based on procs. More often than not, they’re based on RNG, which makes the gameplay much different than other jobs. You’re going to have to use your powerful abilities as they become available, and this time can vary depending on your procs. A lot of Bard’s tools aren’t entirely cooldown gated. Some players find it fun and refreshing. Others believe that it’s frustrating. It used to be even more RNG based, as the procs were directly connected to critical hit mechanics.
The lack of a fixed rotation doesn’t make the job easy to play, though. There’s still a lot of powerful tools that you have to use at the right times to optimize your DPS. As with most FFXIV jobs, there’s much more than one mechanic to keep track of. You’ll have to keep your DoTs running, sing the right songs as well as utilize your procs and oGCD abilities. If you feel like a little bit of variety in terms of rotation would fit you well, this job might be exactly what you’re looking for. Let’s get right into the most important mechanics and skills.
Bard Job Gauges
Bard has access to two job gauges – Song Gauge and Soul Voice Gauge. The Song Gauge is associated with the three main songs: Mage’s Ballad, Army’s Paeon, and Wanderer’s Minuet. The visual indicator on your screen will change depending on the song that you have active. These songs only affect the Bard himself and not his teammates. Each of them provides a different DPS-enhancing effect, but you can only have one active at the same time.
No matter which song you have running, you’ll always want to keep your damage over time attacks on. They are the source of the RNG procs that we’ve talked about. Every damage tick has a 40% chance of granting you a Repertoire stack. Each of the three songs uses these stacks differently.
Song Gauge Skills
Mage’s Ballad – a 100 potency spell that provides a 30 seconds buff. When you proc Repertoire in its duration, your cooldown of Bloodletter and Rain of Arrows instantly resets. It’s used to spam these two attacks.
Army’s Paeon – a 100 potency spell which provides a 30 seconds buff. Every Repertoire stack provides a 4% reduction of ability cast and recast timer as well as auto-attack delay. You can get up to four stacks, which equals a 16% reduction.
Wanderer’s Minuet – a 100 potency spell that provides a 30 seconds buff. During its time, the Repertoire stacks let you use Pitch Perfect – an attack that gets stronger, the more stacks it can consume (up to the maximum of 3). During this song, you want to execute as many Pitch Perfect uses as possible.
Soul Voice Gauge
A level 80 Bard gets access to the Soul Voice Gauge. It’s a separate gauge that’s also connected to the Repertoire mechanic. Each stack provides 5 Soul Voice Gauge. At 20, you get access to Apex Arrow – an AoE attack that hits enemies in a straight line. Every 20 points provide it with 100 potency. It means that using it from 100 Soul Voice Gauge makes it an AoE ability with a potency of 500. You’ll want to use it every time that the bar gets filled, sometimes even earlier.
Heavy Shot/Burst Shot – it’s your main filler attack. You’re going to use it when there’s nothing better that you can do. It’s a single target attack with a potency of 180/230. It has a 20%/35% chance of making your Straight Shot ready.
Straight Shot/Refulgent Arrow – you need the Straight Shot ready status to perform this action. It’s a more powerful single target attack with a potency of 200/350.
Venom Bite/Caustic Bite – your first damage over time attack. It has an initial potency of 100/150 and inflicts a 30 seconds DoT with 40/50 potency. Every tick has a 40% of providing a Repertoire stack. When you have access to Caustic Bite, the initial hit gives you a 35% chance of getting the Straight Shot ready status.
Windbite/Strombite – the other damage over time attack. It has an initial potency of 60/100 and a 30 seconds DoT with 50 potency. Again, every tick has a 40% chance of providing a Repertoire stack. In the high-level form – Stormbite, the initial hit again has a 35% chance of making you Straight Shot ready.
Quick Nock – a cone-shaped AoE attack with a potency of 150. It also provides a 30% chance of resetting the cooldown of Bloodletter and Rain of Death. You’ll use it as a filler attack, instead of Heavy Shot, when hitting multiple targets.
Iron Jaws – a single target attack with a potency of 100. It has a 35% chance of giving you Straight Shot ready status. Most importantly, it refreshes the duration of your DoTs on its target back to a full 30 seconds. When fighting a boss, you might only have to use Caustic Bite and Stormbite once, because later you can refresh their duration with Iron Jaws.
Apex Arrow – the straight line AoE attack that consumes Soul Voice Gauge. With 100 Soul Gauge, it can get up to a potency of 500.
Bard offensive abilities
Raging Strikes – a 20 seconds buff that increases your damage done by 10%. It has an 80 seconds recast timer.
Barrage – it provides the Straight Shot ready status and makes your next single target weaponskill attack three times. You should always use it on your highest potency attack – Refulgent Arrow. Barrage has 80 seconds cooldown.
Bloodletter – a single target damage ability with a potency of 150. You can weave it in between Burst Shots for additional damage. It has a 15 seconds recast timer – shared with Rain of Death, but can be reset with Repertoire stacks during Mage’s Ballad.
Rain of Death – an AoE attack with a potency of 130. It has a 15 seconds cooldown shared with Bloodletter. It can also be reset during Mage’s Ballad.
Pitch Perfect – a single target damage ability that can be used during Wanderer’s Minuet. It consumes all the available Repertoire stacks. With a single stack, the potency is 100, with two stacks, it’s 250, and with all three, it’s an attack with a potency of 450.
Empyreal Arrow – a single target attack with a potency of 230. It always provides a Repertoire stack. This ability has a 15 seconds recast timer.
Battle Voice – a 20 seconds buff that increases the direct hit rate of all nearby party members by 20%. It can only be used when one of the songs is active, and it has a 3-minute cooldown.
Sidewinder – a single target attack that gets extra potency when your target is affected by your DoTs. If both are running, it will hit with a potency of 260. It has a 60 seconds recast timer that is shared with Shadowbite.
Shadowbite – an AoE attack that hits harder if your targets have your DoTs applied to them. It has a base potency of 100 and gets an extra 60 for each DoT. It has a 60 seconds cooldown, shared with Sidewinder.
Bard Defensive Abilities
Repelling Arrow – an attack that makes you jump away from your target. You can use it to kite, but it’s not that important in a group content. It has a 30 seconds cooldown.
Troubadour – a 15 seconds buff that reduces the damage taken by all the nearby party members by 10%. It has a 3 minutes recast timer.
Nature’s Minne – a 15 seconds buff that increases the amount of healing that nearby party members receive, by 20%.
Heavier Shot – gives your Heavy Shot 20% chance to provide Straight Shot ready status.
Increased Action Damage – an extra 10% base damage to all your actions.
Increased Action Damage II – ups the extra damage to 20%.
Bite Mastery – upgrades Venomous Bite to Caustic Bite and Windbite into Stormbite.
Enhanced Empyreal Arrow – guarantees the Repertoire proc when hitting Empyreal Arrow.
Straight Shot Mastery – upgrades Straight Shot into Refulgent Arrow.
Enhanced Quick Nock – provides your Quick Nock with a 30% chance to reset the cooldowns of Bloodletter and Raid of Death.
Bite Mastery II – provides Caustic Bite, Stormbite, and Iron Jaws with a 35% chance to make you Straight Shot ready.
Heavy Shot Mastery – upgrades Heavy Shot to Burst Shot.
Enhanced Army’s Paeon - switching from Army’s Paeon to another song with at least one Repertoire stack will provide you with Army’s Muse buff. It makes the Army’s Paeon buff to keep running after you change to another song.
Soul Voice – gives you access to the Soul Voice Gauge and fills it by 5 every time you get a Repertoire stack.
Bard Playstyle Tips
As we already mentioned, Bard is one of the few jobs that don’t have a fixed rotation. It doesn’t mean that the playstyle is just a complete chaos. There are some skills and abilities that you’ll always want to use together. Other than that, it’s just utilizing all your resources and taking advantage of procs. You’ll always want to have a song active and your DoTs running, no matter how the fight goes.
Each of the Song Gauge’s songs has a 30 seconds duration and 80 seconds cooldown. That means that you’ll have to use all three of them to have a song running at all times. The only one that can provide extra power even after it ends is Army’s Paeon. If you want, you can use this mechanic and cut it off early, to switch to another song. DPS-wise, Wanderer’s Minuet is the most powerful of the three. That’s why you want to use your personal damage buff – Raging Strikes when you’re in this song. They’re both 80 seconds cooldowns, so it’s effortless to manage. Of course, you should also have it up when applying DoTs, since the extra damage will affect their whole duration.
Keeping your DoTs running at all times is the most crucial step. If you can refresh them with Iron Jaws, do that as much as possible. If they ran out, reapply both of them with Caustic Arrow and Stormbite. Remember – each tick has a 40% chance of proccing Repertoire. You can have these damage over time effects running on multiple enemies. The more targets, the harder it is to manage, but this way, you will get more Repertoire stacks.
The other personal damage buff that Bard has access to is Barrage. It’s also an 80 seconds cooldown, but it only affects a one weaponskill. You’ll always want to use it to empower Refulgent Arrow – for the highest potency gain. It’s even better if you’re also able to take advantage of the Raging Strikes damage increase. Just remember that you need to have Straight Shot ready to use Refulgent Arrow.
While DPSing as Bard, you’re going to have to use all the procs that you get. It will allow you to get the highest damage output that you can. Let’s say that you applied your DoTs, and you’re trying to deal as much DPS as possible. There are quite a few things that you’ll have to keep in mind. The procs are:
Straight Shot ready – gives you access to Refulgent Arrow (the evolved version of Straight Shot). It’s your highest potency single-target attack. Refulgent Arrow is a GCD weaponskill, so when it’s available, you’re going to use it instead of the Burst Shot.
Repertoire – you have a 40% chance of proccing it with every tick of your DoTs. You will use these stacks differently, depending on the song that you’re in. In the Army’s Paeon, they will passively increase the power of the buff. There’s no way to consume the stacks. In Mage’s Ballad, every proc resets your Bloodletter and Rain of Death – these are oGCD abilities, so you can weave them in between the weaponskills for extra damage. In Wanderer’s Minuet, they will empower your Pitch Perfect ability. Every time you get to all three stacks, you should instantly use it. It also is an oGCD, so you can always weave it in. If your Wanderer’s Minuet is running out, you can also use it with one or two stacks, just before swapping to another song.
Soul Voice – every Repertoire stack gives you 5 Soul Voice. This gauge empowers your Apex Arrow. It’s a GCD weaponskill, so you use it instead of the filler action. You should always instantly cast it when you get to 100 stacks. Luckily, it won’t interrupt a combo, since Bard doesn’t have any. It won’t be available too often, as it needs 20 Repertoire stacks, but you have to remember about using it when it comes up.
Your basic action is just Heavy Shot/Burst Shot. You’re going to spam it unless you get access to any of your proc-based attacks.
Your opener should look like this:
Raging Strikes->Caustic Bite->Stormbite->Wanderer’s Minuet->Burst Shot.
Then you wait for your procs. When you get Straight Shot ready, you go with Barrage and Refulgent Arrow (or just Refulgent Arrow if Barrage is on cooldown). When you get three Repertoire stacks, you go with Pitch Perfect. Then, you resume spamming Burst Shot and waiting for other procs. You can always weave in Bloodletter, Empyreal Arrow, and Sidewinder when they’re available, and you don’t have a fully stacked Pitch Perfect.
When you swap to Mage’s Ballad, you lose access to Pitch Perfect, but you’ll be able to weave in Bloodletter more frequently, thanks to the cooldowns resets. You will, of course, still want to use Refulgent Arrow every time that you can.
In Army’s Paeon, you won’t have any extra oGCDs, so use the Straight Shot procs and weave in the cooldowns of Bloodletter, Empyreal Arrow, and Sidewinder when you can. It won’t happen all the time since you have no way to reset any of their recast timers.
While doing all of that, no matter which song you’re in, you have to keep the DoTs running. They have a base duration of 30 seconds, so if you’re not facing any complications, you can reset their duration with Iron Jaws. You will want to replace one Burst Shot with Iron Jaws every 20-25 seconds.
The optimal song rotation is: full 30 seconds of Wanderer’s Minuet into full 30 seconds of Mage’s Ballad into 20 seconds of Army’s Paeon and back into Wanderer’s Minuet. It accomplishes a few goals. First – you get the most uptime of your strongest song. Second – the Army’s Muse buff transfers to your Wanderer’s Minuet. Third – an 80 seconds song rotation is in sync with the Raging Strikes and Barrage cooldowns, making sure that you will always have Wanderer’s Minuet when you use them.
Overall, the AoE playstyle is just a little bit different. You will want to keep your DoTs on multiple targets to get more Repertoire procs. At the same time, you will replace Burst Shot with Quick Nook as your filler attack.
Mage’s Ballad is the best song for AoE. Weaving in Rain of Death between the Quick Nooks is an efficient DPS loop. With your DoTs running on three or so enemies, you might be able to weave in the Rain of Death after every filler action. At the same time, you will charge the Apex Arrow significantly faster and get more value out of it, since it’s an AoE attack. During these types of fights, you will have to be more mindful of your positioning. Remember – Quick Nook has a cone-shaped hitbox, and Apex Arrow hits in a straight line.
In other songs, you have to spam Quick Nook and weave in your remaining abilities. You can focus on using DoTs on a high number of enemies since it’s efficient in terms of DPS, and it will charge your Apex Arrow faster. Without resetting the cooldown of Rain of Death, Bard doesn’t have access to that much AoE. You can also weave in Shadowbite, but it has a 60 seconds recast timer.
As we already mentioned, Bard’s supportive power has been significantly reduced. A lot of your other cooldowns are rather underwhelming. That being said, you don’t use anything for using them, but don’t expect too much.
Troubadour can be pretty useful against some strong AoE. It’s not that powerful as a damage reduction, but it lasts 15 seconds, so it’s pretty easy to use. You can always use Nature’s Minne on your main tank if you see that he’s falling too low. You also have access to a team-wide direct hit rate increase in Battle Voice.
Bard in FF14
Bard has a pretty unique, fluid playstyle for an FFXIV job. Instead of mastering the same combos and rotations over and over again, Bard players have to stay aware of multiple opportunities that they get to use their unique abilities. It’s definitely more RNG based than most other jobs, but it’s also more dynamic and engaging than a rotation that’s set in stone.
On the other hand, if you got interested in FFXIV Bard, because the name promises a lot of supportive tools, you will be disappointed. Unfortunately, you’re a couple of years too late - since a lot of the team-wide buffs have been changed or removed. However, Bard is a strong and fun character in the DPS role that will be extremely satisfying to players who enjoy this kind of volatile playstyle.
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How do you become Bard in FFXIV?
To become a Bard, you first have to be a level 30 Archer. Then, you can visit the Archer’s Guild in new Gridania and complete the advancement quest - The One That Got Away.
How to play music as FFXIV Bard?
Bards can play music with their instruments. You can unlock this feature by completing two quests: A Song of Bards and Bowmen and Plucking the Heartstrings. The game lets you then assign specific notes as actions in your hotbar - you can use them to play a melody.
Is FFXIV Bard hard to play?
Bard can be difficult for some players because it’s an incredibly unique job. Instead of performing a stable rotation, Bard players have to react to random procs and use all the resources that are being granted to them. It’s much more fluid than most FFXIV characters.